January 24, 2020 / 2:38 PM / a month ago

EMERGING MARKETS-Latam FX flat, headed for weekly gain, coronavirus weighs

    * Chile cenbank to hold rates through 2020 - poll  
    * Brazil clocks strongest job growth last year since 2013 
    * WHO says virus outbreak a China emergency, not global

    By Shreyashi Sanyal
    Jan 24 (Reuters) - Latin American currencies were flat on
Friday, on track to end the week higher with investors watching
developments related to the coronavirus outbreak.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the flu-like
virus outbreak an "emergency in China" and not of international
concern. This relieved some investors, yet many worried about
the spread of the virus which had killed 26 people and infected
more than 800, as of Thursday.
    Major Latin American currencies traded in tight ranges
against the dollar, with the Chilean peso strengthening
slightly. 
    Chile's central bank is expected to hold its benchmark rate
at 1.75% in January, a poll of 62 traders showed, then keep it
there through 2020 as it seeks to spur the ailing economy
following months of unrest in the mining nation.
    The peso plummeted to historic lows in late November and
December, prompting concerns of rising inflation.
    MSCI's index for Latin American currencies
was up 0.04%. 
    Brazil's real was flat, even as Economy Ministry
figures showed 2019 marked the strongest annual job growth in
the country since 2013, a sign that the economy's recovery from
the last recession is finally picking up pace.
    "That are a lot of questions about what will happen to
Brazilian debt over the next few years," said William Jackson,
chief emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London.
 
    "What the markets are still waiting for is some more
tangible evidence of some of the reforms being talked about like
the tax reform and the public service reform."
    The Mexican peso eked out gains as Reuters reported
U.S. President Donald Trump will sign a trade pact between the
United States, Mexico and Canada on Wednesday during a ceremony
at the White House. 
    Colombia's peso edged higher as prices of oil, the
country's main export, showed some signs of stabilization.
   
    
    Key Latin American stock indexes and currencies at 1422 GMT:
    
    Stock indexes             Latest       Daily % change
 MSCI Emerging Markets         1124.05                   0.17
                                        
 MSCI LatAm                    2918.53                  -0.22
                                        
 Brazil Bovespa              119037.13                  -0.41
                                        
 Mexico IPC                          -                      -
                                        
 Chile IPSA                    4669.97                   0.39
                                        
 Argentina MerVal             41181.32                    0.1
                                        
 Colombia COLCAP               1648.18                      0
                                        
                                                             
       Currencies             Latest       Daily % change
 Brazil real                    4.1688                  -0.10
                                        
 Mexico peso                   18.7669                  -0.05
                                        
 Chile peso                      774.6                   0.17
                                        
 Colombia peso                 3354.35                   0.14
 Peru sol                        3.317                   0.06
                                        
 Argentina peso                60.0850                   0.01
 (interbank)                            
                                        
 
 (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru;
Editing by David Gregorio)
  
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